I’ been sogged by the rain, frozen by snow… sliced by rock and steel more times than you you know — but — I’m still *willing.
The pinkie doesn’t move too well. All that ice climbing with straight shaft tools tended to get crunchy. The ring finger takes over, filling in where the pinkie is such a weak little number. All those rock crimps for so many years used all four; key was distributing the stress. Pinkie resisted but got recruited. Sometimes, finger cracks were sized so only the pinkie would fit. Ugly. We’d tape to just the right size, but that only lasted a few moves. Middle finger has seen big work. Six string acoustic and Fender P-bass. That proud index finger has stood up to abuse so prolific I’ve forgotten way more than I remember. Recently? Took a fall logging (aikido shoulder rolls always come in handy) and popped the front joint pulleys. That looks weird. Your fingernail points north when you’re looking west. Then I tried to swat a wasp out of our pickup cabin: wasp score one, driver zero. Then did a scientific micro section on the sheet metal under our kitchen stove. That’s the digit that’s pulled the trigger on a half century of Skil saws, electric drills, cameras and guns. Don’t forget the thumb! No ligaments on the inside, those went away in a ski fall thirty years ago. Wish I still had those, they come on handy. So does tape but it’s not the same thing. Never smashed that thumb with a hammer — I’m right handed. Left got bashed a few times. Amazing how resilient the cartilage of your fingertips is, but it would be so much better if it didn’t have any nerves. I’m not forgetting the back of that hand. Jammed it in so many cracks on climbs the number is in the gazillions. Most of all, take it as a whole. That mano still likes to wrap around a ski pole grip and feel a brushing touch between nice arcs on a pair of soft modern rockered skis. It’s the hand that pressed my wife’s back as we wedding danced thirty years ago, and still does the job. That’s where the ring finger comes in, on the other hand.
I’m thankful for the hands I was given, and the work they have done.
(*Thanks Little Feat for the lyrical structure.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.